Carmilla

By J. Sheridan LeFanuCarmilla by wildclaw theater

A World Premiere Adaptation by

Aly Renee Amidei

Directed by Scott Cummins

Produced by WildClaw Theatre

At Chicago DCA Storefront Theater

Uneven vampire thriller fails to scare or thrill

Written in 1872, LeFanu’s Carmilla was 25 years ahead of Dracula but it never reached the fame of  Stokers’ Gothic horror story.  Using Aly Renee Amidei’s wordy and weirdly lame adaptation, with director Scott Cummins’ questionable casting and unfolding with a slow pace, this Carmilla is a mixed bag of boring melodrama and predictable and ill-timed horrific bloody vampire fight and biting scenes.  There are stiff performances, loads of screaming, and wild blood letting that unfortunately fails to either scare nor thrill. Some of the dialogue was so poorly written or translated and/or delivered by the cast that the audience reacted with belly laughs. That is not what you want if your trying to build enough suspense to scare audiences.

Carmilla by wildclaw theater

This uneven production slows down to a crawl as it gets bogged down with long wordy text narrative thus deluding the build up of dramatic tension. Poor acting and all those horrible accents that include British, Russian, French and an assortment of Eastern European dialects served to irritate more than enlighten. What is a English girl doing with her family in an Eastern European castle in the mid 1800’s?

Carmilla by wildclaw theater

The story revolves around the young English girl, Laura, (the stiff Brittany Burch) living in a castle who becomes intrigued with a mysterious female house guest – Carmilla (terrific work by Michaela Petro). The two become lesbian lovers. The countryside falls victim to a series of bloody murders nimbly staged by the energetic cast. Many of the scenes are  wildly thrilling and manically stage. Too bad we have to suffer through the numerous tedious ‘talky’ scenes that droned on before the action resumes.

Carmilla by wildclaw theaterCarmilla by wildclaw theater

At two hours and twenty-five minutes, Carmilla could use a 30 minute trim plus a tighter pace and stronger actors could make this work less melodramatic and more of a Gothic horror work that could chill us to the bone. As presented now, Carmilla gets more laughs than screams from the audience. Could be that the laughs cover the restlessness from all the boring scenes?

Not Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

At the DCA Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph, Chicago, IL, call 312-742-8497, www.dcatheater.org, tickets $20 ($10 students/seniors), Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 25 minutes with intermission, through February 20, 2011